Skip to main content
Log in

Production of transgenic beef cattle rich in n-3 PUFAs by somatic cell nuclear transfer

Biotechnology Letters Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article



Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are beneficial to human health. However, the n-3 PUFAs contents of the livestock meat that we consume daily are relatively low. Utilization of transgenic technology to increase n-3 PUFAs contents in livestock may solve this problem.


The omega-3 fatty acid desaturase (FAD3), encoded by fat1 gene derived from Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), converts omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 PUFAs) to n-3 PUFAs. In the study, a plasmid containing the codon-optimized C. elegans fat1 gene (mfat1) was constructed and used to produce transgenic beef cattle by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Fourteen transgenic calves were obtained, and the ratio of n-6 to n-3 PUFAs in the transgenic calves decreased from 5.33: 1 to 0.95: 1 compared with negative controls.


Our results demonstrated that the codon-optimized C. elegans mfat1 gene can be functionally expressed in the beef cattle and converts n-6 PUFAs to n-3 PUFAs.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Brisville AC, Fecteau G, Boysen S, Desrochers A, Dorval P, Buczinski S, Lefebvre R, Helie P, Blondin P, Smith LC (2013) Neonatal morbidity and mortality of 31 calves derived from somatic cloning. J Vet Intern Med 27:1218–1227

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Calder PC (2014) Very long chain omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids and human health. Eur J Lipid Sci Tech 116:1280–1300

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kang JX, Wang JD (2005) A simplified method for analysis of polyunsaturated fatty acids. BMC Biochem 6:1–4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kang YK, Koo DB, Park JS, Choi YH, Chung AS, Lee KK, Han YM (2001) Aberrant methylation of donor genome in cloned bovine embryos. Nat Genet 28:173–177

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lai LX, Kang JX, Li RF, Wang JD, Witt WT, Yong HY, Hao YH, Wax DM, Murphy CN, Rieke A, Samuel M, Linville ML, Korte SW, Evans RW, Starzl TE, Prather RS, Dai YF (2006) Generation of cloned transgenic pigs rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nat Biotechnol 24:435–436

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lorente-Cebrian S, Costa A, Navas-Carretero S, Zabala M, Martinez JA, Moreno-Aliaga MJ (2013) Role of omega-3 fatty acids in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases: a review of the evidence. J Physiol Biochem 69:633–651

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Oura T, Kajiwara S (2004) Saccharomyces kluyveri fad3 encodes an omega 3 fatty acid desaturase. Microbiol Sgm 150:1983–1990

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pan D, Zhang L, Zhou Y, et al. (2010) Efficient production of omega-3 fatty acid desaturase (sFat-1)-transgenic pigs by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Sci China Life Sci 53:517–523

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Saeki K, Matsumoto K, Kinoshita M, Suzuki I, Tasaka Y, Kano K, Taguchi Y, Mikami K, Hirabayashi M, Kashiwazaki N, Hosoi Y, Murata N, Iritani A (2004) Functional expression of a delta 12 fatty acid desaturase gene from spinach in transgenic pigs. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:6361–6366

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Simopoulos AP (2000) Human requirement for n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Poultry Sci 79:961–970

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Simopoulos AP (2011) Importance of the omega-6/omega-3 balance in health and disease: evolutionary aspects of diet. World Rev Nutr Diet 102:10–21

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Watanabe S (2013) Effect of calf death loss on cloned cattle herd derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer: clones with congenital defects would be removed by the death loss. Anim Sci J 84:631–638

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wood JD, Enser M, Fisher AV, Nute GR, Sheard PR, Richardson RI, Hughes SI, Whittington FM (2008) Fat deposition, fatty acid composition and meat quality: a review. Meat Sci 78:343–358

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wu X, Ouyang H, Duan B, Pang D, Zhang L, Yuan T, Xue L, Ni D, Cheng L, Dong S, Wei Z, Li L, Yu M, Sun Q, Chen D, Lai L, Dai Y, Li G (2012) Production of cloned transgenic cow expressing omega-3 fatty acids. Transgenic Res 21:537–543

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Yu M, Gao Q, Wang Y, Zhang W, Li L, Wang Y, Dai Y (2013) Unbalanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio in red meat products in china. J Biomed Res 27:366–371

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang P, Liu P, Dou H, Chen L, Chen L, Lin L, Tan P, Vajta G, Gao J, Du Y, Ma RZ (2013) Handmade cloned transgenic sheep rich in omega-3 fatty acids. PLoS ONE 8:e559412

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhou Y, Lin Y, Wu X, Feng C, Long C, Xiong F, Wang N, Pan D, Chen H (2014) The high-level accumulation of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in transgenic pigs harboring the n-3 fatty acid desaturase gene from caenorhabditis briggsae. Transgenic Res 23:89–97

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the GMO New Varieties Major Project (2013ZX08007-002, 2014ZX08007-002), the National Natural Science Foundation (31301937) and the Chinese National High-Tech Research and Development Program (2013AA102505).

Supporting information

Supplementary Table 1—Codon optimization of fat1 gene.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Linsen Zan.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOC 37 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cheng, G., Fu, C., Wang, H. et al. Production of transgenic beef cattle rich in n-3 PUFAs by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Biotechnol Lett 37, 1565–1571 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: